Most gamers today look fondly back at the period from 1989 to the mid-90s as a golden age for SEGA, with Genesis hardware and software sales simply trouncing Nintendo's 16-bit console, the Super Nintendo (what an original name, huh guys?). The reasons for such a clear and decisive victory are multifaceted, so join me, fellow Segative World readers, as we examine some of the clever tactics and downright genius innovations SEGA utilized to ensure the Genesis would cement its place as one of the greatest consoles. Of. All. Time.
Sexy and curvy black finish served only to entice the very best in game development, especially compared to the pale gray and purple monstrosity engineered by Nintendo.
Famous people starring in Genesis games
The Genesis clearly had the edge over Nintendo on this one! Pat Riley Basketball, Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf, James 'Buster' Douglas Knockout Boxing, Joe Montana Football, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Mario Lemieux Hockey, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. Who did Nintendo have? Some obscure baseball player from Seattle?
Mortal Kombat had blood. 'Nuff said.
The Super Nintendo launched with an overly complicated controller scheme that simply had too many buttons to count. Gamers only have two thumbs, and SEGA hit the sweet spot with their oh-so-perfect ABC button control scheme. SEGA also gave gamers even more options by releasing their own complex controller (ABC-XYZ) that gave players the necessary tool to play the enhanced versions of Super Nintendo ports.
In addition, the Genesis had two primary sound chips: the Yamaha YM2612 FM synth chip and the Texas Instruments SN76489 PSG chip, allowing for a true electronic soundtrack that pumped up the excitement to fantastic levels. Who needs more realism in their game music?
The most (and best) exclusives
The number of quality SEGA exclusives far outnumbers anything on the Super Nintendo. ToeJam & Earl, Ecco the Dolphin, Dynamite Headdy, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star, Golden Axe, Shinobi, ETERNAL CHAMPIONS... the list goes on and on!
No matter what 'innovations' Nintendo could come up, SEGA always found a way to outdo them. Stunt Race FX? Forget that, Genesis had Virtua Racing. Computer rendered graphics? Vectorman does it even better and never misses a beat. Perhaps the most innovative piece of technology to have been born of the Genesis era was the Activator, which could actually read your body movement as inputs to martial arts games. Motion controls began here, suffice it to say!
The power of add-ons
All the add-ons made the Genesis a versatile and powerful system that the SNES simply could not keep with. First came the Sega CD, which allowed developers to include full motion video, something unheard of on Nintendo's platform. The power of the Genesis was tapped even further with the release of the 32x, which, amazingly enough, doubled the number of bits from 16 to 32. Even though Nintendo made attempts to keep up with SEGA, they couldn't even get their Sony CD add-on released. I think we all know what happened to Sony after that!
The Genesis had Sonic. Nintendo did not. Sonic was the perfect embodiment of all that was cool and righteous in the world of video games, and his games clearly demonstrated this was the case. Nintendo's own mascot, the chubby little Mario, was already aging and could not keep up with gamers' desire for a mascot that oozed with so much blue energy. Aside from the larger number of quality titles he starred in on the Genesis console itself, his presence in the comics, cartoons and spectacular merchandise tie-ins ensured gamers knew where to turn for the best in entertainment. In fact, there's an entire top ten list on why Sonic is better than Mario.
I couldn't agree more with respect to #5. I mean, just listening to the killer soundtracks from Vectorman, Kid Chameleon, Ecco, and countless others, makes games like Super Metroid and A Link to the Past sound so dated, tinny and downright trite. I'm so glad Sega has been called out for truly having the ultimate win over the SNES's awful sound performance.